From 1895 to 1899 H. H. Piffard developed his artistic career in number of directions, serving as both a military artist and an aviation pioneer, as well as a magazine and book illustrator, and English genre painter. As a source of income, he illustrated such British periodicals as The Strand Magazine, The Illustrated London News, and The Pictorial Magazine. At the age of twenty-eight he began to illustrate books, eventually illustrating over a hundred novels by such authors as George Eliot, Charles Dickens, Richard Marsh, Max Pemberton, and Guy Boothby. In 1908 Piffard began supplementing his income as a painter by working for Collins of London and Glasgow, illustrating their reprints of such classic novels as Thackeray's The Virginians, Vanity Fair, and Christmas Books, as well as Dickens's Mystery of Edwin Drood, and George Eliot's Felix Holt, the Radical. In his short program of illustration for the Collins' Pocket Edition of Dickens's The Mystery of Edwin Drood (No. 330), Piffard's illustrations suggest that he may have been familiar with the large-scale wood engravings of Luke Fildes that accompanied the original monthly serialisation of the novel (April through September 1870), he seems to have developed his own reading of the text, and provided plates that focus on the relationships between just two characters in each case, except for the argument between Neville Landless and Edwin Drood in the frontispiece. So short was the novel whose composition was terminated by Dickens's untimely death the Collins decided to include three late short stories to fill out the volume: "Hunted Down" (1859), A Holiday Romance (1868), and "George Silverman's Explanation" (1868). However, Collins appears not have commissioned Piffard to illustrate that last selection.

Related Material

Lithographs for the Collins Pocket Edition No. 330: The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Other Stories


Davis, Linda. "Biographical Note on Harold Hume Piffard (1867-1938)."

Dickens, Charles. Hard Times, Hunted Down, Holiday Romance, & George Silverman's Explanation. Illustrated by Fred Walker and Maurice Greiffenhagen. The Fireside Edition. 22 vols. London: Chapman and Hall; New York: Henry Froude; New York: Oxford University Press American Branch, 1898. Volume 12.

Dickens, Charles. The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Other Stories. Illustrated by Sir Luke Fildes, R. A. London: Chapman and Hall Limited, 193, Piccadilly. 1880.

Dickens, Charles. The Mystery of Edwin Drood and Other Stories, illustrated by Harold Hume Piffard. No. 330. London & Glasgow: Collins' Clear-Type Press, circa 1904.

"Harold Hume Piffard (British, 1867 – 1938): Saragossa 10 February 1809, oil on canvas, signed, 54″ x 36″." The Knohl Collection.

Kirkpatrick, , Robert J. "Harold Piffard." Bear Alley Blogspot. 8 September 2018.

Created 17 May 2022

Last updated i July 2022